Turn an iPhone into a Wi-Fi hotspot

It’s easy to share your iPhone’s data with a MacBook or iPad, and browse the In­ter­net on the go. Lucy Hat­ter­s­ley shows how

iPad&iPhone user - - CONTENTS -

Have you ever wished you could share your iPhone’s cel­lu­lar con­nec­tion with Wi-Fi-only de­vices nearby, such as a lap­top or iPad? You’re in luck: it’s easy to set up an iPhone as a por­ta­ble Wi-Fi hotspot, open­ing up its web con­nec­tion to any­one who is close enough has the pass­word. Here’s how.

The ben­e­fits

Let’s say you’re trav­el­ling with your iPhone and MacBook or a Wi-Fi-only iPad and want to do some work. At this point you’ve got two op­tions: do the work on the larger-screen de­vices, but with­out be­ing able to con­nect to any on­line re­sources; or go on­line and be stuck with a smaller screen.

Turn­ing your iPhone into a Wi-Fi hotspot gives you a handy third op­tion, al­low­ing the lap­top and tablet to pig­gy­back on the phone’s web con­nec­tion. Wi-Fi hotspots are great for work­ing on the go.

It’s easy to do, but you may wish to speak to your phone car­rier first or at least check your con­tract’s terms and con­di­tions; some net­works pre­fer you not to do this and may charge you ex­tra (or cap your data al­lowance) if they spot you set­ting up a hotspot.

And while we’re talk­ing about data al­lowances, this is an­other thing to bear in mind: if you have a lim­ited al­lowance you should only use the Wi-Fi hotspot for a short amount of time.

Cre­ate a hotspot

A Wi-Fi hotspot turns the iPhone into a Wi-Fi router, much like the one in your home. The iPhone con­nects to the In­ter­net us­ing its 3G/4G cel­lu­lar data con­nec­tion, and then broad­casts this via a Wi-Fi con­nec­tion that your Mac, or other de­vice, can con­nect to.

Here’s how to set up an iPhone Wi-Fi hotspot: Open the Set­tings app, then se­lect Mo­bile Data. (In iOS 10 or later. In some older ver­sions of iOS you just se­lect Mo­bile.)

Tap Per­sonal Hotspot, and set Per­sonal Hotspot to On. (Tap the slide so it turns green.) If Wi-Fi and/or Blue­tooth are off, iOS will ask if you want to turn them back on. We’d rec­om­mend do­ing so - with­out them, the hotspot will be lim­ited to USB. This is more se­cure, how­ever. Tap ‘Wi-Fi Pass­word’ and en­ter a suitable pass­word. (This isn’t re­lated to your Ap­ple ID or usual Wi-Fi con­nec­tion.) Now check the name of the hotspot listed un­der To Con­nect Us­ing Wi-Fi (we get David’s iPhone). Click the Wi-Fi icon in your Mac’s Menu bar, or open the Set­tings app and tap Wi-Fi on an iPad, and choose the Wi-Fi hotspot. En­ter the pass­word from Step 4.

That should be it. You should now be able to browse the In­ter­net on your MacBook or Wi-Fi-only iPad us­ing the con­nec­tion pro­vided by your iPhone. If you haven’t got the Wi-Fi icon in the Menu bar of your Mac, open Sys­tem Pref­er­ences and click Net­work. Se­lect Wi-Fi in the list on the left. Choose the iPhone hotspot from the Net­work Name drop-down menu.

While you’re here, you should place a tick next to ‘Show Wi-Fi sta­tus in menu bar’.

You can now browse the In­ter­net on your Mac or iPad us­ing the data con­nec­tion from the iPhone. Your mileage may vary, how­ever, de­pend­ing on how good the iPhone’s net­work con­nec­tion is. You might find the In­ter­net runs a lit­tle slower than you’re used to.

When you’ve fin­ished, tap Set­tings > Mo­bile > Per­sonal Hotspot on your iPhone and set it to Off.


What if some­one tries to hi­jack your con­nec­tion, burn­ing through your data con­nec­tion and/or ac­cess­ing dodgy sites and con­tent?

You should be okay, be­cause the iPhone hotspot is pass­word-pro­tected. (All the more rea­son not to choose the word ‘pass­word’ or some­thing else that’s

eas­ily guessed.) And you’ll see a small no­ti­fi­ca­tion at the top of your iPhone’s screen when a de­vice ac­cesses its hotspot, so you’ll get a warn­ing if some­one in your train car­riage does man­age to guess your pass­word.

A more im­por­tant warn­ing con­cerns data lim­its on your own surf­ing. It’s easy to for­get, when ac­cess­ing the web over a de­vice that’s nor­mally lim­ited to Wi-Fi con­nec­tions, that you’re work­ing against a 3G or 4G data limit. Re­mem­ber that you’re on the clock, so to speak, and we’d sug­gest avoid­ing down­load­ing large apps and sim­i­lar.

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